It was always a childhood dream of mine to see Paris, France. Isn’t it delightful to see the sights of Champs Elysees, the smells of French bakeries, the interesting sounds of Moulin Rouge, and experience the love that envelopes the world’s romantic city? I finally got the chance to see Paris last year with my partner through a short side trip while I was visiting him in the UK. And because I have a Philippine passport, I had to acquire for a Schengen visa to travel to France. Read on how I got my France Schengen Visa in the Philippines.
What is a Schengen Visa?
As a Philippine passport holder, it is a given that we need a visa to get to anywhere outside ASEAN countries. A Schengen visa is the powerhouse visa that allows you to travel to all 25 countries in the EU area. It allows you access to the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. This makes organizing the grand Euro trip so much easier–you only need one visa to enter all aforementioned EU countries signed to the Schengen agreement.
Apply for France Schengen Visa in the Philippines
1. How Much?
Visa processing fee is 60 euros, or during my time, around Php 3,080. For children ages 0-6, it is free of charge whereas minors from ages 6-11 pay 35 euros or approximately Php 2,000. Visa processing fee c/o VFS is Php 1,333. Other charges may include SMS fee for updates for Php 220 and courier fee of Php 330 if you preferred the passport to be mailed to your door.
2. When to Apply?
Applications are accepted up to three months before your travel date. You should apply for your visa as soon as you’ve finalized your travel schedule (by the way, you don’t need to buy a ticket just yet, a booked reservation will do). I recommend to apply 6-8 weeks before your travel date for enough time allowance.
3. How to Apply?
Schengen tourist visa applications should be lodged at the embassy or consulate of the country of visit. In my case, my intention was to visit France only, so I did it at the French Embassy. If you’re planning to visit several countries, you apply for your application to the country you’ll be staying the longest. If the length of stay in each destination is almost the same, you should lodge the application to the country of first entry.
*Update 1/6/16: As of December 9, 2015, all Schengen visa applications for France are already outsourced to VFS Global. For more information, you can check this link.
You can book an appointment online or via call at +63 2 790 4903. Visa applications are open from Monday to Friday at 7AM to 2PM.
4. Where to Apply?
Schengen visa applications for France are now done in VFS Global as of 12/9/2015.
The address of VFS France is:
France Visa Application Centre,
Mezzanine Floor, Ecoplaza Bldg.,
Don Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City
Address of the French Embassy in Manila:
16th Floor Pacific Star Building corner
Sen. Gil Puyat Ext. and Makati Avenue 1200, Philippines.
II. Requirements for France Schengen Visa
Checklist of Documents to Bring on the day of your appointment:
- Cover Letter. The letter must contain your travel details, purpose of your trip, and your plans to stay there, who you are traveling with, the details of your relationship with sponsor (if applicable), and the list of documents you’re about to submit to the embassy. The letter should be addressed to:THE HONORABLE CONSUL
EMBASSY OF FRANCE
16th floor Pacific Star Bldg
Makati Avenue cor. Senator Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City
- Attached is my sample Letter to the French Consulate for the French Embassy.
- Printed, filled up and signed Schengen Application form (download here) with 1 photo affixed (bring 2 photos)Photograph Requirements – Most photo shops would already know the specifications needed for visa requirements-just tell them it’s for a Schengen visa. I had ours taken in Ayala Center Cebu.recent photo taken within six months
- 45mm x 35mm
- White or cream background
- Taken with nothing covering the face, without sunglasses or tinted spectacles, or a head covering unless for religious or medical reasons. The subject should have their mouth closed (no grinning, frowning or raised eye brows). Applicant should be facing forwarding, looking straight ahead.
- Confirmed Booking Appointment Letter. Print the confirmed booking, which will be sent to you by VFS via email.
- School / Employment Supporting Documents – provides proof of coming back to the Philippines.Student – a letter from your school or education provider confirming your enrollment and leave of absence
- Employee – tax returns, pay slips, letter from your employer confirming employment, and confirming leave of absence.
- Business Owner – tax returns, business registration documents (stating your name as business owner)
- Financial Supporting Documents – documents that prove you don’t need to work while you’re in France. This can include bank statements, pay slips, credit card statements, property titles; within the last six months or so
- Trip Details must include the following:Roundtrip Airfare Ticket Reservations.
- Planned Itinerary, detailing what you intend to do and places you want to see during your stay in the EU areas. (Read my Suggested Itinerary: Paris France blog post to help you plan an itinerary!)
- Hotel Booking or Reservations. I suggest you book your accommodations at Booking.com where booking and cancellation is free. If you are intending to stay with a friend, provide your host’s passport, national identity card, residence permit and Certificate of Board and Lodging.
- Personal Supporting Documents – proof of your identification details & personal circumstancesNSO Birth Certificate
- Marriage Certificate, if married
- Current Passport and Previous Passport, to see travel history
- Travel Insurance covering the entire duration of your intended stay. Minimun coverage is 30,000 euros.
Complete submission of these documents will be helpful in obtaining that visa, but does not guarantee visa issuance; but missing or incomplete supporting documents may result in a Schengen visa refusal.
Next step is Appointment time. Please come on time and be prepared!
I came to VFS Center 30 minutes before appointment at 8AM, and deposited my bag to the baggage counter before coming in to VFS France. Since they weren’t that busy they had me come in immediately anyway without having to wait. I presented my documents to the counter, where the VFS pointed out I had a few missing documents. Thankfully, you can now photocopy, print, scan, use the internet, book tickets, accommodations and car rental, buy travel insurance and more at the main reception area of VFS Center through Vasco.
I was able to retrieve missing documents at Vasco and went back to VFS France, and they were quick to process them. After submitting the docs, I paid at the cashier the total amount of Php 4, they had my biometrics taken–fingerprints, photo, the works. I left the center at exactly 9:30AM, and would have finished earlier if I hadn’t been so lenient with my papers. 😉
Ecoplaza Bldg has great food choices at Eco Eats, such as Jamba Juice, Yellow Cab, Max’s, Teriyaki Boy and more. I stuffed my face here with great food–who knew visa processing can make you so hungry?
IV. Waiting Period & Results
Next is waiting time. I am impressed about how quick the processing was for my visa! I received an email that day that my visa has been dispatched to the embassy. It should look like this:
Visa application, ref no.______ has been dispatched to the France Embassy Manila on 1/11/2016 for processing.
Two days after, I received another email:
‘Processed visa application ref no. ______ is ready for collection at the VFS France Visa Application Centre between 2-4pm M-F,
If opt for courier, please disregard this message.
‘Processed visa application ref no.______ has been couriered to you via 2GO Express on 1/14/2016.’
Kindly wait for 24-48hrs if within Metro Manila area.
Additional delivery lead time for Provinces and remote areas applies.
You can track your application via the VFS Website.
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